Jeff Hendrick made a compelling case to start Friday’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland by scoring two sublime goals to help Derby to a 5-0 win over Wolves on Saturday.
The midfielder struck from long range to make it 2-0 before putting the finishing touch to a glorious flowing move to make it 4-0 as Derby returned to the top of the Championship.
The 22-year-old’s timing could hardly have been better, with Glenn Whelan highly unlikely to be fit for the trip to Celtic Park. Martin O’Neill has opted to start Stephen Quinn in both of Ireland’s away qualifiers so far but with the Hull man seeing little game time at club level, Hendrick — who came off the bench to create John O’Shea’s equaliser against Germany — will hope he has done enough to start on Friday, particularly with James McCarthy now an injury doubt.
That, though, is for the future. On Saturday, Hendrick was simply elated that Derby, who went into the Wolves game on the back of two defeats in their previous three league games, had sent out a “real message” to their promotion rivals.
“With the two games we lost a week ago, we weren’t happy and we wanted to get back to the way we play,” Hendrick said.
“We were all up for it and we really wanted to put down a marker. Thankfully, we did that. We have put on a good performance and got a good result. It will send out a real message.”
Meanwhile, it was a bittersweet day for Alan Dunne as he grabbed his first goal since March 2013 but saw his Millwall side lose 3-2 at home to Brentford after the defender had missed a great chance to equalise late on.
Brian Lenihan endured a baptism of fire on his debut in English football. The former Cork City defender joined Blackpool on loan from Hull on Friday and was drafted straight in to the starting line-up against Leeds. However, the game was over as contest by half-time with Leeds leading 3-0.
It was a more successful weekend for former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy as Ipswich climbed to fourth after a 1-0 win over promotion rivals Watford.
In the Scottish Premiership, a goal from Graham Carey helped struggling Ross County to 3-0 win away to Kilmarnock.
“We want him to get on the half turn and try to get shots away,” Ross County manager Jim McIntyre said of Carey. “He’s got such a fantastic shot on him.”
Adam Rooney was on the mark for Aberdeen yesterday but they conceded a last-gasp goal to lose 2-1 at home to Celtic.
The first round of the FA Cup took place at the weekend. On Saturday, Greg Cunningham put Bristol City on their way to a 2-1 win at Gillingham while Conor Hourihane was among the scorers as Barnsley hammered Burton 5-0.
James Collins looked to have booked Shrewsbury’s place in the hat for the second road but Walsall claimed a last-gasp goal to draw 2-2.
However, a Barry Corr goal from a penalty wasn’t enough to preserve Southend’s hopes of a cup run as they lost 2-1 at home to Chester.
Yesterday, Eoin Doyle hit a brace as Chesterfield cruised into the second round with a 6-0 win over Braintree Town. Jay O’Shea also netted for the Spireites.
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